2nd Brew - still some issues

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2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Tomas » 9 months ago

Brewed Jamil's Ruabeoir Irish Red yesterday, which was my 2nd BIAB brew.  Day went well, but I missed my gravity targets both GIB and GAW.  I lost 10F @ 70 min into the mash & refired the kettle to bring the temp back up.  I want to find a better way of insulating the kettle during mash to reduce the temp loss.  Attached is the BIABacus file
BIABacus - Ruabeoir Irish Red scaled to zman kettle.xls
 for review and any insight into why I am undershooting the gravity.  I did not adjust the gravity with the addn of DME post chilling.  
The wort went into the conical at 3:45 pm EST yesterday and was active at 6:45 am today, in a controlled 66F environment.
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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by robertz64 » 9 months ago

Tomas,
If your BIABacus quantities are accurate and your grain has been milled then make sure that the grain bag is protected from scorching.
Try to maintain mash temperature within a degree or two of  required temperature by firing the kettle as needed and agitate your mash often.
Insulating the kettle will help. You may need to remove the insulation when the burner is on. Be cautious.
Wort should be cooled to around 70 F for an accurate specific gravity reading.
90 minute mash or maybe even longer.
Attention to these details work for me. Opinions and techniques will vary. I think this is a good beginning.
Good Luck, Cheers!


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Tomas » 9 months ago

Robert,  I'm confident of the volume measurements, the grain bill & the crush.  Wort was 68F when gravity measurements were taken.  Temp was 55F when starting & 69F when done, sunshine with very light wind, so I don't think the weather was a significant factor.  I used a blanket on my first BIAB brew and used the insulation shown in the picture for this one.  I saw this in the latest Zymurgy article by Gavin Convey & copied it.  Insulation was removed for the one kettle firing @ 70 min.  No stirring during the mash, as I didn't want to further lose heat.
IMG_1133.JPG
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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by robertz64 » 9 months ago

I use the same type of blanket.
I think that stirring the mash helps to extract the sugar from the grain.
I would try stirring more and adding heat as necessary to maintain temperature.


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Streamer » 9 months ago

I think R64 is correct, and I've struggled with this same issue. Stirring or agitating the mash would, I think, accomplish two things: help assure that the grain is adequately washed so that the sugars from the grain are disbursed, and keeping the temperature uniform through the liquid. I see that you have a stationary thermometer - I would think if you don't agitate the sweet liqueur often, you'll end up with areas that are cooler and others that are hotter, so you can't be sure that you are maintaining a consistent temperature throughout. You also said that you dropped the temperature by 10F over 70 minutes (if i'm interpreting this correctly). From what I've found on this forum, you should try to maintain as constant a mash temperature as reasonable. So agitating the liqueur often should help you monitor the temp.  I haven't found a good insulation product to use, so I monitor my temperature after agitating every 5 minutes or so (roughly 7 gallons), and fire up the burner as necessary. When I fire up the burner I stir constantly and take temperature readings until I get to my target. I think I'm restating things that have been better said, but hey, I'm retired (sort of). Refer to "The Commentary" for the best discussion of this  http://www.biabrewer.info/download/file.php?id=51
The Commentary.pdf
starting at "mash".
I'm really interested in your insulation technique. Did you buy it at a big box or on line?
Last edited by Streamer on 27 Jan 2017, 13:11, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by bejkee » 9 months ago

Did you mill your grain yourself or did you get it milled somewhere else? I was undershooting the gravity with default biabacus settings, when I was using pre-milled grain by about 10 %, so I modified the default value (section X) to -10 % kettle efficiency. I've only brewed one batch with my own mill, but efficiency has gone up.

If I had to invent a theory (keep in mind this coud be pure bull-poo), I would say that milled grain left to sit would draw in additional moisture from the air, thereby increasing its weight and reducing the relative weight of sugar in the grain. Since you measure out your grain by weighing it, you are instead adding water to your mash instead of just sugar.


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Tomas » 9 months ago

Streamer - the insulation is Reflectix & I got it at Lowes.  About $18 + a roll of tape for a few bucks more.  It's basically foil on both sides with a layer of plastic bubble wrap in between, so it can't be exposed to flame.  I fabricated 2 layers & taped them together at top & bottom.  I've got a lot of ports to get around, but it is relatively easy to take it on/off.  I'm not sure how effective it is.

bejkee - I get my grain at a reputable LHBS and they do the grinding.  It was fresh.


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Streamer » 9 months ago

Thanks Thomas. I think I'll go buy some reflectix. It looks like it would help keep the heat in. Definitely better than none at all.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Streamer » 9 months ago

Thanks Thomas. I think I'll go buy some reflectix. It looks like it would help keep the heat in. Definitely better than none at all.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by bejkee » 9 months ago

Tomas wrote: bejkee - I get my grain at a reputable LHBS and they do the grinding.  It was fresh.
Oh well, I have a sort of feeling that efficiency is something that will exponentially approach the final value with each successive brew - i.e. you will get closer every time (but may never reach it).
But in the end, we can compensate by modifying the biabacus defaults and who cares if we spend 500 g more of grain, we're not doing this to earn a living.


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by robertz64 » 9 months ago

Streamer, When cutting your Reflectix, consider over lapping the ends.
 Mine was cut a few inches longer and secured with velcro. 
When I left it on and applied low heat to the kettle it did shrink buy 3/4" in length.
The bottom edge also began to shrivel. I may cut the bottom shorter and add an outer layer.
A roll of Reflectix at Home Depot is 2' x 10'.
Tomas,
As other members on this site recommend measuring temperature in more than one area of your kettle. A calibrating and a instant read thermometer make a good combination. 
The Mad Scientists method of mashing with a large potato masher is a good way to agitate the mash. 
I use these methods each time I brew and always reach the required gravity. 


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Primavera » 9 months ago

I use an old comforter secured along the bottom with a bungee cord. I also wrap the burner stand 3/4 of the way around with aluminum foil. Wrapping the sides will not do much unless you insulate the lid. The foil keeps wind off the bottom and makes the burner more efficient.

I maintain mash temperature within 2°F for a 90 minute mash with 2 stirs.


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Tomas » 9 months ago

[sup]Primavera - Thanks. Are you maintaining the 2 degree variation without firing up the burner? Are you brewing outdoors with a gas hired burner?[/sup]


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Primavera » 9 months ago

Tomas wrote:[sup]Primavera - Thanks. Are you maintaining the 2 degree variation without firing up the burner? Are you brewing outdoors with a gas hired burner?[/sup]
Yes and Yes

The comforter is purple on one side and polka-dot on the other. I believe that is why it is so effective.

Seriously though - it is a double layer of thick insulation covering the entire kettle and the bottom is shielded from wind with the foil. The bungees secure the bottom of the comforter leaving everything above loose. I am usually at ±0°F after 30 minutes and -0° / -1°F at 60°F. This is for 10.5 gallons of water and 15# + of grain.


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Scott » 9 months ago

Hey Tomas,

A couple affirmations...along with some additional.

1) Agitating the mash is very important for good BIAB efficiency. I agitate really well with potato masher when first mashing in, then twice in middle step of 90 minute mash, and again immediately prior to pulling bag and starting the boil Actually two mash agitations with middle step of reheating process at roughly 45 minutes, in middle of mash: a) agitate mash, b) pull bag partially / off the bottom of pot and reheat, then c) lower bag back into wort, then d) agitate mash again prior to e) re-covering pot with insulation... So I stir / agitate the mash at least 4 times total throughout the mashing process...very thoroughly. 

2) Insulation - I wonder if your aluminized material will insulate enough...? Maybe. Just depends how cold it is outside. It looks really nice. Here is my process... A) use a cotton based blanket folded once lengthwise to wrap the pot with the excess folded and put on top the pot. B) wrap with similar size synthetic blanket folded same way. (Don't use synthetic against hot pot and burner.)  C) wrap with old sleeping bag. Use a couple paper clamps to hold it on. I normally will lose 2-3 degrees during this time. And remember that if it is cold, a pot thermometer read from outside will likely be a couple degrees colder than the temperature in the middle of the pot. 

Remember that "dead air space" is actually what does the insulating, and not the material that holds the "dead air"...

FYI Some people use a smaller size pot lid inside and at the bottom of their the pot, with holes drilled in it. Then don't cover the pot during the mash, using low heat and not pulling the bag... Then apparently pull the lid before the boil... I have no practical experience doing this.

3) Efficiency - the number on the BIABacus is always close. Plus or minus a couple points, with it being over more often than under. It is not some kind of vague number not to be achieved. 

Certainly I remember the confusion of what to do, processes, when I was new. Asked a lot of questions on this forum and received great advice. There are multiple ways to get a good result. But if you are copying someone, it is best to model someone that is doing it right and getting the proper result. Best of luck and hope this helps!   :luck:
Last edited by Scott on 30 Jan 2017, 03:58, edited 2 times in total.


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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Streamer » 9 months ago

Great explanation Scott. I just picked up an old comforter today (synthetic cover, not cotton) and was worried about placing it against the hot brew vessel. The cotton towel is too simple! Now I just need to find a potato masher that didn't belong to my mother-in-law (because it's sacred) and I'll be set    
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

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Re: 2nd Brew - still some issues

Post by Muggy Dawson » 7 months ago

Scott wrote:
<span title="30 Jan 2017, 03:03">9 months ago</span>
I agitate really well with potato masher when first mashing in

wrap with old sleeping bag.
I use a paint stirrer which looks much like an oversized potato masher, it works brilliantly and the length is spot on for my urn depth, however my search continues for a Stainless steel version.

+1 on the sleeping bag. I've never had an problems with using one and only lose about 1dC over a 60-70min mash. Plus when I go camping I get to enjoy to aroma as I drift off to sleep. :thumbs:
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